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Nursing Friendly Industry

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

In all the conversations I've had with nursing women about unsupportive work environments, I find myself being continually thankful for the support I've received in my industry.

Last week I headed off to Denver for a two day conference. There were five of us speaking to a small seminar of about 40 attendees on the subject of search engine marketing. I spoke on social media marketing and viral marketing and of course used both The Lactivist and Bento Yum as case studies.

Since Emmitt is still refusing to drink breast milk from a bottle or sippy cup, he went along with me. Greg came to keep an eye on him, marking the first time he's gone on a business trip with me. I'd nurse Emmitt before the conference, then again at lunch when Greg brought him by, and then again when the show wrapped up around 5pm. (Emmitt's a night eater, so going for 5 hours during the day is easy.)

What made things great was how supportive everyone was. There was no going off to hide in a corner, or trying to be "business-like." In fact, there were multiple times where conference attendees would come over to talk shop with me while I was sitting there nursing Emmitt.

I had something similar happen at a show here in Columbus in May. A friend was downtown with Emmitt and I since he was eating more frequently then. At lunch, a man in his 40's in a business suit came by our table and asked if he could ask me a few questions. I said "sure, but I'm about to feed Emmitt." The man said "I don't mind if you don't."

So, we sat and talked shop for about 20 minutes while Emmitt had his lunch.

In fact, I've been struck at how many people come up to me after I speak to tell me how much they enjoy this site and to share their own breastfeeding stories with me.

For instance, when I was in New York earlier this year, I did a radio interview. Afterward, the host told me that his wife was still night nursing their 2.5 year old. Just last week at the show, one of the women attending had a 5 month old that was pumping for.

Not sure what point I'm trying to make here other than to say that there as often as we hear about women having problems juggling nursing and work, there are positive stories out there as well. I'm certain I'm not the only person that has found support.

So how about some positive stories. Any one else out there work in a particularly supportive environment and want to share it with us? Sometimes we need that reminder that our culture is changing, even if it's changing slowly.

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  1. Blogger JK | 5:25 PM |  

    I'm glad to hear that your experience was so good. I took my nursling with me to a conference once and it was hard because I traveled by myself. I had someone (a friend) there to help, but my friend was also doing things at the conference so it was a lot of baby juggling between us.

    Despite that, at the conference (think very stuff academics), my little one and I got a pretty good reception... Many people loved seeing my little girl and gushed over her. A few people ignored her. No one made a negative comment to me. It helped that a few of the extremely influential folks LOVE babies and made that well known. A few of the women applauded me for bringing her to help push the envelope and pave the way for other women.

    You are right that times are changing.... It does take people doing crazy new things (though taking a baby to a conference doesn't seem all that crazy) to make progress.

    I didn't nurse her at the conference because that would have been pushing too far, too fast.

  2. Anonymous Anonymous | 5:41 PM |  

    I think it's a great idea to talk about positive experiences for nursing moms. You do hear horror stories but I don't think they are the norm. ALL of my bosses were extrememly supportive, as well as my clients--one even going so far as to get me a private room secured to pump in! I have successfully worked and nursed both my children for a year each- still going strong on #2!!!
    To me nursing is extremely important for mothers who work outside of the home and I like to do my part in helping more mom's understand the importance of breastfeeding.

  3. Blogger Jessica | 6:00 PM |  

    i work for the arizona department of health services, and we have a breastfeeding policy in place that allows women to bring their nurslings to work with them up to the age of 6 months. My son is 5.5 months old, and tomorrow is his last day coming to work with me (sob). At this point, it is tremendously difficult to juggle him and my work so I understand why the limit is 6 months. I just wanted to share though because I'm so grateful to have had this opportunity. I have nursed him in just about every meeting I've had since the beginning of April and everyone is so supportive of it. It is a great example for a state or local health department to set.

  4. Anonymous Anonymous | 6:08 AM |  

    I am a long time reader of your blog. I've never posted before though!
    I wanted to share a positive story. I have a VERY supportive work environment. I have been able to pump when needed without complaint from a sinlge person. I too travel for work from time to time. On my last trip the hotel clerk was giving me crap about needing a fridge in my room to store pumped milk. My boss was with me and finally said, just make sure she has a fridge in her room or we are out of here.

    I have also been pleasantly surprised how many convention centers are very pumping friendly. I worried endlessly before my first trip about where I would pump at McCormick Center in Chicago. When I arrived I happened to walk past the first aid station and thought I would give it a try. I hardly had to say what I was there for. I walked in, they showed me to a private room, made sure I had all that I needed and even offered up their fridge to store milk in while I was there. I can NOT tell you how great this made me feel. It made me feel even better to know that I obviously had not been the only mom to do this there! The last day I was there I brought them all doughnuts and muffins to show my appreciation!

    Also, just wanted to add, traveling with my breastmilk in my checked luggage was no big deal at all. I brought back 125 oz. of milk in my suitcase after four days! It survived, no one opened the cooler and tried to rummage through it. I also had NO problems carrying my pump on the plane with me even though there was no baby in site!

  5. Blogger Anna | 7:18 AM |  

    Yay! What a wonderful topic!

    I'm pretty sure I have one of the most family-supportive employers on the planet. Levi came to work with me every day until he was 10 months old. I nursed him freely - even in staff meetings - with nothing but support from everyone here. When I made the decision to stop bringing him to work, I pumped whenever I needed to and stored the milk in the freezer in our break room. Again - nothing but support from my coworkers.

    When I was concerned about not being able to pump enough for Levi while he was in daycare, the owner's wife, Sharon (who is also a coworker, friend, and has a baby a couple months younger than Levi) pumped extra for us.

    When Sharon was in the hospital after having Ellie (her 4th), she was having trouble nursing and a couple of the nurses were giving her pressure to supplement. She called me, I brought her some breastmilk that I had in my freezer, and I nursed Ellie while I was there. All the poor baby needed was to know that if she latched on and sucked, something *would* come out. She nursed fine from Sharon after that. I love, LOVE working with people who truly believe in the "it takes a village" approach!

    And I just have to share my two favorite positive NIP experiences:

    - I once nursed Gracie while floating around a "lazy river" type thing at Wyandot Lake. Being in a bathing suit and sitting on an innertube, there was a significant amount of exposure. Every lifeguard we floated past smiled and waved at us as if to say, "yep - totally cool... go for it!"

    - The Columbus Zoo has a bird exhibit where you can purchase nectar and go into an aviary to feed the birds. I had Gracie in her sling and was nursing her while two birds were sitting on my hand and eating nectar. A woman noticed us, laughed and said, "Now that's talent!"

  6. Blogger Nevanna | 9:27 AM |  

    I've mentioned this before, but my job is very pumping friendly. Since I returned at 6 weeks post partem (I also started working here halfway through my pregnancy!), I pumped quite a bit the first few weeks! We have a secure, dedicated room for pumping. With a lock. :) And since I have a wireless laptop, I just undock and work while I pump. It couldn't be any smoother!

  7. Anonymous Anonymous | 10:38 AM |  

    What a great topic! I decided to stay home with my now 8-month-old, which I am very glad about. I am *trying* to work from home, but it is difficult to get much done. Therefore, am amazed at the people who commented that their employers let them bring their babies with them to work...how does that work, practically speaking? Maybe my baby is just needier/noisier than most, but I can't even focus enough to compose a coherent thought while she's awake, let alone be in an office-type environment without disturbing everyone else! How do you ladies do it??!!

  8. Anonymous Anonymous | 9:58 AM |  

    I also have an extremely supportive work environment. My 3-month-old comes with me to work, and I am free to nurse at any time, anywhere in the office. Yes, it can be hard to focus; my attention is always divided, and I am not as productive as I used to be, but I am still accomplishing more than I thought I could. Sometimes Lily starts screaming her head off and refuses to be consoled; at those times I quickly whisk her away and we take a short walk around the block until she calms down. Nobody has ever complained about my nursing or the baby getting fussy. My coworkers are like family to me, and they all dote on Lily.

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